The McTen: Miami Meltdown

December, 25, 2010
12/25/10
8:53
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers 96-80 loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday ...
1


Phil Jackson wasn't surprised.

He warned his team that they were due for a "comeuppance" and figured that it came against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday but he wasn't so sure the lesson could be learned from just one loss.

"Disappointing finish to a game as hyped as that one was, but no surprise to us as a coaching staff," Jackson said after his team fell down by as many as 21 points while only shooting 40.5 percent from the field. "We’re just not playing very good ball."

According to Lamar Odom, the problem isn't that the Lakers aren't playing well, it's that they're remembering a time when they were playing well and expecting that level of success to come back without putting in the work.

"We’re cocky," Odom said. "We feel like we shouldn’t lose or we can’t lose and that’s been our problem this season, especially early on in this season. We were over confident. Do you know how many teams are gunning for us?"

At the top of that list gunning for a championship is Miami. You can add Boston, Orlando, San Antonio and even Dallas, too.

But really, all 29 other teams in the league come into a game with the Lakers doing everything they can to win.

"I think these games mean more to our opponents than they do to us," Kobe Bryant said. "I think we need to get that straight. Play with more focus and put more importance on these games. I don’t like it.

"We know what we’re capable of doing, that’s the problem because we’ve been there before and we know what we have to do and it’s kind of like, ‘OK, we’ll do it …’ We need to get going here."

The Heat's struggles became a national story when the team went just 9-8 over its first 17 games. But now Miami has won 14 of 15 while the Lakers are just 8-7 in their last 15 games, or about the same level of mediocrity that the Heat displayed early on.

Optimism and experience allow a team to frame each loss in an 82-game season in the proper perspective, but there comes a time when a realization is required.

"I think individually you have to make that decision yourself about what’s important," Bryant said. "The game has to be the most important thing. You have to focus on it, you have to play every game like it’s your last, you have to be attentive to what’s going on. This is serious stuff. You don’t just have two rings and say, ‘OK, we’re satisfied with what we got.’ I’m not rolling with that. I’m not going to let that slide. We need to get in gear."

Bryant went on to say that "it only takes one guy" for a team to lose its focus. He wasn't singling out anybody in particular, but I thought his quotes and Odom's quotes were directly opposed to Ron Artest's take after the game.

"We’re a great team," Artest said. "We lost, but we’re a great team. That’s what the diagnosis is."

OK, Dr. Ron.
2


ESPN.com's Marc Stein tweeted that it was one of Bryant's "all-time press conferences" and it's tough to argue with the man.

Bryant was fuming when he reached the postgame podium, close to an hour after the final buzzer.

He was rolling so much that he could have occupied the quotes of the night part of this post all by himself.

Here's some other choice cuts:

On him jawing with LeBron James in the fourth quarter: "I just asked him what he got for Christmas."

On the season being too long before the playoffs: "It’s your job. You got to show up and work. I don’t buy that crap."

On how they'll turn it around: "I’ll kick some [butt] in practice. [The message] is going to get through … I’m going to beat it in their heads until it gets through."

On whether he is "concerned" about the Lakers 2-4 record against teams above .500: "What about this press conference makes you think I’m not concerned?"
3


In a vacuum, seeing Pau Gasol's final line of 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists doesn't sound off alarms. But Jackson hinted there's something more going on.

"He’s got no base," Jackson said. "He’s not shooting the ball with a base. He’s kind of just lollygagging and putting a soft release on his shot. He’s not decisive about his jump shot or passes. Those are the things that really concerned us because his game has to be effective for us to be consistently good."

What's causing it, coach?

"I have some thoughts on it but I’m not going to share them with you, but I do have some thoughts on it. They’re just speculations though."
4


Artest famously knocked the headband off of Paul Pierce's dome in the first couple minutes of Game 7 against Boston and he gave the same treatment to James on Saturday.

"I was in a WWE headlock," James said after the game. "I just tried to get out of it. So, I got a technical for trying to get out of a headlock."

James' T was one of three technical fouls issued in the chippy affair. Artest got on on the James play and Bryant was whistled for one in the second quarter, his third in the last two games.
5


The Lakers get the San Antonio Spurs next on Tuesday, who at 25-4, have the best record in the league. It doesn't get any easier after that, as the Spurs game is followed by game in New Orleans the next day.

"San Antonio is playing extremely well right now on the season," Jackson said. "That’s a game we’ve been pointing at as a coaching staff for some time now and New Orleans on a back-to-back is going to be tough."

Co-captain Derek Fisher wants the effort to improve against every team, not just successful ones like the Spurs and Hornets.

"Our goal is to win every game we play regardless of the opponent or the date and we haven’t been doing that very well lately," Fisher said.
6


Seen in the Lakers locker room: "Boring day off" on the white board after the game, signifying the guys don't have to come in to work Sunday. Jackson stuck with his plan to take the day off even after the disappointing effort against Miami.
7


Want another Kobe-LeBron parallel? They both tweaked the Timberwolves this week.

First, James talked about contraction Thursday and said, "Imagine if you could take Kevin Love off Minnesota and add him to another team and you shrink the [league]."

Then Bryant was asked if the upcoming game against San Antonio was troubling for his team and he took his shot at the T-Wolves.

"We could be playing Minnesota --Yeah, I said it -- and I’d still be concerned," Bryant said.
8


Jackson has now played in or coached in 26 Christmas Day games. He went 6-2 as a player with New York and 7-0 coaching the Chicago Bulls but Saturday's loss drops his Christmas record with the Lakers to just 4-7.

The Lakers followed up a 15-point loss to Cleveland last year with a 16-point loss to Miami this year.

"We always suck on Christmas," Bryant said. "I don’t think we’re mean enough to be able to show up on Christmas Day and play. They should just take us off this day."
9


Quotes of the night: "Nice ringtone." -- Miami's Chris Bosh pausing during an answer to comment on a reporter's cell phone ring. The song playing on the phone was Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars."

"There’s really no ups and downs. There’s just steadiness. Is that a word? 'Steadiness?'" - Ron Artest arguing the way only he can that L.A. has been consistent this season.

"The Big Four." -- LeBron James sarcastically dubbing a new nickname for the team based on the success the Heat have had since signing backup big man Erick Dampier.
10


Stats of the night: Bryant and Gasol combined for zero points on 0-for-11 shooting in the first quarter while Bosh and James went for 17 on 7-of-12 shooting ... James (27 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) logged the first triple-double on Christmas Day since 1970 when Billy Cunningham had a triple-dip for Philadelphia ... Not only did the Lakers lose to Milwaukee and Miami, they lost all eight out eight quarters in the two games.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0